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Nation in brief: NASA robot touches Mars soil

Mon., June 2, 2008

NASA’s new robot on Mars has reached out and touched the soil for the first time, leaving behind a striking footprint-like impression, scientists said Sunday.

The Phoenix Mars Lander’s robotic arm was making a test run, just one week after its landing. The spacecraft, which is also its own laboratory, will soon start scooping up soil and ice and running tests on it.

“This first touch allows us to utilize the robotic arm accurately,” said David Spencer, Phoenix’s surface mission manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

NASA on Saturday showed sharp images of what appeared to be ice exposed under the lander. The mission’s main goal is to test ice for evidence of organic compounds that are the chemical building blocks of life.


Shooter injures police officer

A gunman dressed in camouflage shot at houses from a car Sunday and then fired at law enforcers who pursued him for an hour through Tucson, gravely injuring one, before he surrendered, authorities said.

No one in the homes was injured, but a 43-year-old Tucson police officer who had joined the force after a military career was on life support after being shot in the head, Police Chief Richard Miranda said.

Two Pima County sheriff’s deputies were wounded with injuries not considered life-threatening, he said.

David Nicholas Delich, 25, was being held and interviewed by city police and sheriff’s investigators Sunday night but had not been booked on any charges, said Rick Kastigar, criminal investigations chief for the sheriff’s department.


Plane crashed in 1984 found

What searchers couldn’t find, drought helped reveal.

Canoeists on receding Lake Meredith in the Texas Panhandle found a small plane that crashed in 1984, the National Park Service said in a statement Saturday.

The 25-year-old pilot and a passenger died in the crash, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board. The Park Service didn’t say whether it had recovered any remains.

A wheel from the plane and a jacket believed to have been the pilot’s were found floating on the lake in the two days after the crash. But a six-day dive turned up nothing else, according to the report.

Park Service workers have closed the area around the wreckage so they can investigate, spokeswoman Rozanna Pfeiffer said in the statement.

Lake Meredith, about 20 miles north of Amarillo, is at just 8 percent of its capacity, according to the latest monthly report from the Texas Water Development Board.


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